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Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees

Poaceae
Weeping lovegrass

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.


  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References

Uses

A warm-season bunchgrass with good growth in spring and autumn, used fresh and as hay, and recommended for leys with alfalfa in drier farming areas. In South Africa and adjacent territories, it is valued for ease of establishment, reasonable yields, and palatability. However, in countries where it has been adopted, it is often regarded as inferior to the best grazing grasses and has not spread much beyond experimental areas. It is considered excellent for protecting terraces and for grassing water channels; and is valuable for erosion control. In Lesotho, it is used to make baskets, brooms, hats, ropes, and candles, used in funeral ritual, as a charm, and eaten as a grain (Duke and Wain, 1981).

Folk Medicine

Other species reported to be anhidrotic, and stimulant, and are folk remedies for anemia, and diabetes (Duke and Wain, 1981).

Chemistry

Per 100 g, the wet matter is reported to contain (ZMB): 13.1 g protein, 2.1 g fat, 78.8 g total carbohydrate, 31.5 g fiber, and 6.0 g ash (Gohl, 1981). Per 100 g, the wet matter is reported to contain (ZMB): 9.3 g protein, 3.0 g fat, 82.1 g total carbohydrate, 32.4 g fiber, 5.6 g ash, 310 mg Ca, and 180 mg P (Miller, 1958). Paxton (1975) mentions high contrations of pyrocatechol in the roots, suggesting an explanation for nematode resistance.

Description

Variable, tufted perennial, deep-rooted, bunch-type, forming large clumps with abundant drooping basal leaves; culms erect, 60-120 cm tall, simple; sheaths keeled and densely to sparsely hispidulous basally; blades narrow, ascending, involute, attenuate to a fine point, arcuate-spreading, rough on both surfaces; panicles 15-40 cm long, 5-10 cm broad, open, with numerous ascending branches, the lower ones pilose in axils, with numerous ascending secondary branchlets that bear the sessile spikelets; spikelets grayish-green, appressed, 8-10 mm long, 7- to 11-flowered; lemmas about 2.5 mm long, falling individually. Seeds 3 to 5 million/kg.

Germplasm

Reported from the African Center of Diversity, weeping lovegrass, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate drought, frost, high pH, heat, low pH, mine, poor soil and slope (Duke, 1978). All species and varieties are apomicts although sexual plants have occasionally been found. The plants are pseudogamous. The basic chromosome number is x = 10; aneuploid chromosome number of 63 has also been found (Bogdan, 1977). The botanical var. valida Stapf is established in Brazil. Several other cultivars have been developed. 'A-67', developed in Arizona from Tanzanian seed, grows vigorously, is leafy, densely tufted, long-lived, with extensive root system and long, lax leaves; forage and seed production is higher than for Lehmann or Boer lovegrass and is more cold tolerant than those species; used for range, pasture and soil protection on a wide range of soil textures where annual precipitation exceeds 40 cm. 'Catalina', selected in Arizona from seed from Pretoria is apomictic, equal to Lehmann lovegrass in stand establishment, with forage yields that are 30% higher and of better quality than for Lehmann; adapted to semi-arid and arid areas of Southwest, at elevation below 1,530 m, with minimum rainfall of 30 cm; 'Ermelo' is comparatively leafy, with good performance under grazing conditions in southern Oklahoma and Texas. 'Morpa', selected in Oklahoma from seed from Transvaal, is about 7.5 cm taller, with panicles darker, leaves slightly wider, and 7-10 days later than common lovegrass, with yields equal to or higher than those of other cultivars; also contains less lignin and produces 12-13% higher live weight in stock, and is superior to common lovegrass in average daily gains for both winter and summer grazing. (2n = 20, 40, 50, 60) (Reed, 1976).

Distribution

Native to South Africa north to Rhodesia and Transvaal. Introduced into the U.S. in 1927 from South Africa; introduced to North Africa, Australia, and Brazil.

Ecology

Ranging from Cool Temperate Steppe to Wet through Tropical Dry Forest Life Zones, weeping lovegrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to 16.3 dm (mean of 27 cases = 8.6) annual temperature of 5.9 to 26.2°C (mean of 27 cases = 16.5) and pH of 5.0 to 8.2 (mean of 25 cases = 6.7) (Duke, 1978). Adapted to semi-arid and desert areas and sandy soils, growing well on low fertility soils; very drought-resistant but lacks hardiness for more northern areas. Grows well on a wide range of well-drained soils, especially sandy loams; moderately frost-resistant in southern areas.

Cultivation

Relatively easy to establish from seed, and stands should be established between May 1 and June 15. Seed planted with small seed drill. With later plantings, there is less weed competition, more uniform seedling emergence due to warm soil conditions and less chance of hard packing by rains that frequently occur in spring. Seeding rate 1-3 kg/ha, with shallow sowing essential, 0.6-1.3 cm deep; in rows 1-1.3 m apart. It is managed best in pure stand. For seed production, row spacing should be not less than 60 cm apart. A clean fine seedbed is essential for obtaining good stands. Seed area is firmly pressed with a trailing packer wheel or drag. Under furrow irrigation, fields should be listed at the desired row spacing. Plantings are made on top of lister ridges and irrigated if needed for seedling emergence. Cultivate as for other row crops. If needed, fertilizer should be added prior to planting, with recommended rates of P and K. Nitrogen may be applied at this time at rate of 11-22 kg/ha, and additional nitrogen applied as top-dressing after seedlings are well established. Nitrogen applications of 66 kg/ha are necessary for good seed production. Usually 33-70 kg/ha phosphate is also needed. Micronutrients, such as iron, may be needed in some areas. Fertilizer applications should be made in April for first seed crop and in August for second.

Harvesting

Crop provides summer pasture in United States with Korean lespedeza; grown for winter pasture on sandy soils in Florida. Rotational grazing is necessary to maintain stand. Hay harvested in mid-May, about 10 days after seed heads appear, and at this stage may be expected to give 60% dry matter digestibility and 11% crude protein content. Such hay is adequate for wintering dry cows without supplemental protein. Height of plant at seed maturity is 92-123 cm.

Yields and Economics

With two seasons for seeds, yields of 630 kg/ha may be gotten in Oklahoma with irrigation; seed yields of 562-900 kg/ha can be produced from established stands; and in Arizona seed yields up to 1100 kg/ha have been recorded. E. curvula is useful for pasture throughout much of the southern US, but well adapted also in parts of the southern Great Plains. Ca 60,000 ha were grown in Oklahoma and Texas in 1968. Also useful for soil erosion, grassing waterways and for hay in areas of adaptation.

Energy

According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from 1 to 10 MT/ha. Bogdan (1977) reports the following: 1-2 MT DM/ha from unfertilized stands; in India, for fresh fodder, 11.8 MT/ha - 1st year, 27.2 MT/ha - 2nd year, 22.0 MT/ha - 3rd year, 5.3 MT/ha - 4th year; 6-11 MT DM/ha or 6-9 MT hay when 140-450 kg N/ha were added; and in South Africa, 160 kg applied N increased yields from 2.0 MT DM/ha to 10.3 MT. Duke (1978) reports 9 MT hay/ha. Dalrymple (1976) reports yields of 3-7 MT/ha DM in Oklahoma and Texas.

Biotic Factors

The following fungi have been reported from this grass: Colletotrichum graminicola, Epichloe cinerea, Fusarium scirpi var. acuminatum, Helminthosporium sativum, Phyllachora eragrostidicola, P. eragrostidis, Rhizoctonia solani, Uromyces eragrostidis, U. pedicellata. Nematodes isolated from this grass include Meloidogyne acronea, M. incognita, and M. javanica. It has been reported that root exudates can adversely affect geermination of maize and wheat seed, and are stimulating to sunflower and cowpea (Bogdan, 1977).

References

Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
last update July 10, 1996